Windows: You maybe a victim of software counterfeiting

Consider a situation where you bought your Microsoft Windows operating system some years ago. You have used the computer throughout this period without glitches, and you even had the copy of the OS validated without issues. Then, suddenly, you get a message saying you may be a victim of software counterfeiting.

The situation worsens when your screen turns black after booting and the user interface changes. So, what is the meaning of software counterfeiting on Windows, and how do you fix it?

The software counterfeiting message on Microsoft Windows is a Windows Server Authentication error. The error occurs when the server flags your Windows license as not genuine.

You could also see a similar message if the Windows OS you installed has a missing registry key or lacks permissions related to the Network Service account.

Fixing the issue will depend on whether your Windows installation is genuine. That begins by ensuring you have an activation or product key.

What is the cause of the software counterfeiting message?

Generally, the problem is not as serious as one might think. However, the following could be why your Windows PC displays the message.

  • The Windows software does not have a genuine activation key.
  • You did not properly activate your copy of Windows.
  • You activated your software with a trial license.
  • The license key is authentic, but another computer is using it.

If you also bought a pirated version of Windows OS or Microsoft Office, the next Microsoft update will install Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA).

WGA will validate your licenses to determine their authenticity, meaning you will get the counterfeiting message if it is stolen or pirated.

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Microsoft Windows

How to fix – you may be a victim of a software counterfeiting error

You can fix the ‘you may be a victim of software counterfeiting’ error by doing the following:

1. Reactivate your Windows operating system

If you have a genuine version of Windows, the error might occur because of an internal glitch. Luckily, you can reactivate your OS with a product key or digital license. Here is how:

  • Go to Control Panel.
  • Select System and Security.
  • Click on System.

Scroll to the bottom to find your Windows Product ID. Copy the ID and follow the steps below:

  • Press Windows + R on your keyboard.
  • Type slui.exe and press Enter.
  • A Windows Activation window will open.
  • Click on Type/Retype your product key.
  • Press Enter.

If the step does not work, go back to the Windows Activation window. Then:

  • Click on Activate Windows online now.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the reactivation.

The activation step may be different if you have Windows 10. Here is how:

  • Press Windows + R key.
  • Type slul.exe.
  • Hit Enter.
  • Select the Change product key.
  • Enter your product key.
  • Hit Enter on the keyboard.

Your system will reactivate and get rid of Microsoft counterfeit warning.

2. Remove Windows Genuine Advantage

Windows Genuine Advantage validates all Windows licenses and allows updates to Microsoft wares. It also displays notifications if you have installed pirated software. 

Noteworthy, WGA is not a vital component of Windows OS. Therefore, removing it will allow your software copy to run and remove the counterfeiting message.

  • Press Windows key + R.
  • Type Regedit.
  • Hit Enter on the keyboard.
  • Expand the folders in order; Software > Microsoft > Windows NT > CurrentVersion > Winlogon > Notify.
  • Right-click on the WgaLogon folder and click on Delete.
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The option will delete your WgaLogon folder from your Registry files, eventually removing the counterfeiting message.

3. Disable the Plug and Play Group Policy Service

The licensing service uses Plug and Play to get hardware information. However, the setting can mistake the activation service into believing that your Windows or Microsoft Word is not genuine. Consider disabling.

  • Press Windows key + R.
  • Type Rsop. msc.
  • Hit Enter on your keyboard. The Resultant Set of Policy window will open.
  • Click through the path Computer Configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Security Settings > System Services.
  • Go to the right sidebar.
  • Locate the Plug and Play service.

If its Startup option is Not Defined, consider the following options:

  • Right-click on Plug and Play.
  • Select Properties.
  • Change the Group Policy for Startup and Permission to Not Defined.
  • Close the Resultant Set of Policy window.
  • Reboot your computer.

After your computer reboots, consider activating your software or check whether the genuine Office message has disappeared.

4. Restore the previous windows installation

You can manually restore files and data previously present on the old version of your Windows OS to fix the counterfeiting message. Do the following:

  • Right-click on My Computer.
  • Select Properties.
  • Click System Protection.
  • Select System Restore.
  • Select the oldest Restore Point for Windows.

The restore point is one you had before receiving the software counterfeiting error. At this point, Windows will reboot to restore the files, and the counterfeit message should disappear.   

5. Stop future Windows updates

Anytime Windows updates its software, it also downloads the Windows Genuine Advantage to validate all licenses. You can prevent this by doing the following:

  • Go to Start.
  • Type Services.
  • Select Services (choose the option with a gear).
  • Scroll to locate Windows Updates.
  • Under the Windows Update Properties window, go to Startup type.
  • In the dropdown menu, select Disabled.
  • Press Apply then, OK, to complete the setup.
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The setup will disable future WGA updates.

Services on Windows PC

What is the difference between pirated and counterfeit software?

Pirated and counterfeit software may mean the same thing but are different. Here is how:

  • Counterfeit Software is software that has been produced to look authentic. It involved providing everything about the software, including the box, manuals, product keys, and CDs. If, in the case of Microsoft Office, for example, you will also get the Office license that is not from Microsoft.
  • Pirated Software is software that one user has used to install on multiple computers. In this case, a user gets the Office 365 license for single use. However, the user distributes the license to other people, thus preventing them from buying from Microsoft.


If your Windows says you may be a victim of software counterfeiting, your OS does not have a genuine activation key, or you did not properly activate your copy of Windows. You can fix this by reactivating your Windows license.

Alternatively, remove Windows Genuine Advantage, disable Plug and Play Group Policy service, or restore the previous Windows installation. Another option is to stop future updates to prevent Windows from adding WGA.

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